Since Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated in Korea, I figured that I just wouldn’t celebrate it this year. There was a Thanksgiving get-together that would be happening at the foreigner’s bar I frequent, but I didn’t want to spend 25,000 won to hang out in a smokey bar with a bunch of acquaintances and eat food that most likely wouldn’t be very good.
Then a week before Thanksgiving weekend, my close Korean friend, Ashley (Hyo-Jung), invited me and Poppie, a mutual friend of ours, to go to Busan during Thanksgiving weekend with her and her boyfriend, Summit (Song-Min). Busan is Korea’s beach town, and I’d been wanting to go there for a while but hadn’t had the chance yet, so of course I said yes.
We left on Saturday morning and drove the five hours plus two extra hours of traffic to Busan. We got there around 5:30pm, checked into our fancy hotel, dropped our bags off in our room, and then headed out to dinner. We decided on Korean BBQ because it’s cheap and DELICIOUS.
After dinner, we walked along Haeundae Beach and enjoyed the smell of the ocean. Even though Busan was about 30 degrees warmer than Suwon was at the time, it was still too cold to actually go in the water, but we didn’t care. I’m from California and Poppie’s from Melbourne, so just the fact that we were in a place that reminded us of our homes made us feel content.
The night ended with us hanging out in a coffee shop for two hours and talking about the cultural differences and societal expectations of America, Korea, and Australia; it made for an interesting and thought-provoking discussion! We were supposed to go to a dance club afterward, but at this point it was 11:30pm and none of us had the energy to get dressed up and go drinking/dancing, even despite the fact we had just drank coffee. We were that tired.
After checking out of our hotel the next day, we went to an all-you-can-eat-buffet called The Party. Now, when I think of a buffet, I think of places like Hometown Buffet and Sizzler, but this place was nothing of the sort; this place was fancy schmancy, $35 a person, and offered an eclectic choice of foods: Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, French, American, etc. And it all tasted amazing! Essentially, I was in food heaven.
It wasn’t until after I finished my third plate of food when Poppie pointed out, “Hey, you got your Thanksgiving dinner after all!” I thought about it for a second and replied with, “You’re right. I did! Good friends and lots of good food. This definitely counts.” After my mini-revelation, Poppie and I went to the dessert section where I found Pumpkin Panna Cotta. I ate some, of course, because it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving dinner without a pumpkin dessert.
I recently mentioned that I’m extremely thankful for my family and friends back home, but I forgot to mention that I’m just as thankful for my family here in Korea. I’m so grateful that Ashley and Summit took me with them to Busan. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have been able to get out of freezing-cold Suwon for a couple of days and experience a place I’ve been wanting to visit for a while. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have been distracted during a time when I’m missing my family a lot. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have gotten my Thanksgiving weekend after all.